This week, May 9 to May 15 is Food Allergy Awareness Week. For families and children who deal with food allergies on a daily basis, it can be stressful and worrisome to constantly be on alert for food allergy symptoms when a new food is tried or when the threat of cross-contamination exists. Often children can have a sensitivity or intolerance for certain foods which can still have symptoms and affect a child’s moods but don’t trigger a full immune system response. An allergic reaction to a food happens when the immune system treats a certain food as an invader and will trigger an immune attack. A food intolerance is the body’s inability to digest a specific food.
Research indicates that food allergies in children are on the rise and are more common in children, especially children who have parents with food allergies. The good news is that children can often outgrow food allergies or intolerances but this requires some vigilant tracking of what they eat in their early years and keeping a good record of food allergy symptoms. There currently is no cure for food allergies but there have been some advances made in food allergy treatment. There continue to be many food allergy research initiatives and studies which are helping to make advances towards a better understanding of how to cure and treat food allergies.
A child can have a food allergy or sensitivity to any food or food combination but the most common foods are wheat, eggs, soy, fish, milk and tree nuts. Allergic reactions can range from very mild to severe. For babies or toddlers, it’s especially important for parents to be aware of food allergy symptoms since young children may not be able to articulate how they feel after eating a certain food. Allergic symptoms include hives, wheezing and swelling within 2 minutes to 2 hours of eating an allergic food. Other less severe symptoms may appear after longer periods of time including within several days and can be chronic and on-going. These symptoms might include eczema or other skin irritation, vomiting or diarrhea, runny nose and mood changes such as clinginess, increased fussiness or periods of stomach pain. This is why its often a good idea to keep a food diary of how much and how often baby eats a food when introducing new foods.
For babies, other symptoms might include increased night wakings, frequent diaper rashes, mucous or specks of blood in bowel movements, frequent spitting up or burping which can also include reflux. Reflux is sometimes a symptom of a food allergy or food intolerance. Keep in mind that children can have an allergic reaction to food even if they have eaten it before without a problem. Some food proteins build up in a child’s system over time and once a threshold is reach, a reaction can occur.
If you suspect your child might have a food allergy or a food sensitivity, check your doctor for information on how to track food allergy symptoms and test for food allergies. Here at Babble Soft, we offer an easy, online tracking program for helping with baby food allergy tracking which you can try for FREE for two weeks.
Here are some food allergy information sources that you might want to check out as part of Food Allergy Awareness Week.
Food Allergy Initiative- Take part in their “Give It Up” campaign which encourages everyone to give up their favorite food this week in effort to show their support for others who suffer from food allergies. You can also find resources here to write to your elected officials to voice your support for continued food allergy research. Join the Food Allergy Initiative on Facebook too!
FAAN- Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network: Find all the information you might ever need about food allergies along with recipes, alerts and support from others who deal with food allergies. You can also join FAAN on Facebook.
Take a moment to review this public service announcement from FAAN called “Respect Every Bite.”